That which must not be mentioned
Apart from eventually dying of course, there are a few things in the world that we will all do:
Eating & drinking
Even if we don’t have sex often, most of us do it. At some point. More people will have sex in their lifetime than will have a bank account, than will be a Christian, than will kill someone, than will own a house, than will learn to cook. There are more people having sex today than there are people becoming a vegetarian! This is because even though we don’t all have money or a shared faith or live in a safe country, we all have bodies and we all have hormones. Without them, there would be no us. How many adults do you know who have never ever had sex?
It’s up there as one of THE most natural things ever in the world to do. Breathing, eating, drinking, going to the loo… good, good, all good, all necessary. We must keep doing them… but stop having sex or do it badly or thoughtlessly and we’re also in trouble. We’re all in trouble. Rape, AIDS, other STDs, population problems. We need sex. But we need proper sex.
What we don’t need are wars or people beating the crap out of one another.
So… Why are books to do with such a normal, average, everyday human function seen as naughty? Why is violence allowed on TV earlier than sex? Why do we worry about our children knowing about sex? Why is it hidden like a bad thing, only allowed out late at night?
Why is okay to scare the willies (excuse the pun) out of our children with, lets face it – unlikely but very realistically portrayed – scenarios about aliens, monsters, soldiers, danger, death, violence, entrapment, on TV? Children believe a lot of what they see on television. We are hardly protecting them, keeping them safe and prolonging their childhoods by doing this. Unreal fear and violence are not the same as imaginative escapism – something which I am all for.
I’m not saying parents should be giving sexual demonstrations in front of their children (not until they are 16 and can be thoroughly ashamed, at least! ;)) or allowing them to look at pornography. (I don’t consider pornography safe, thoughtful or realistic…. But that’s another argument) But can’t we allow sex to be normal, and worry less when explaining the ins and outs (tee hee) of reproduction. After all it is more normal and useful than shooting people and plenty of kids have had hands on experience of pretending to murder people on computer games.
I’ve seen stabbings on soaps on TV before 9pm; blood, shootings, violence, punches thrown, and yet the major complaints the public seem to make are often to do with something of a sexual nature – such as a homosexual kiss. And kissing hurts whom exactly?
If it’s less hidden, if it’s less naughty, if it’s less forbidden. If it’s just assumed that it is a natural human function, surely that reduces the mystery, the fear, and therefore the danger and the chances of doing it wrong, badly, illegally.
Here’s something else completely amazing: there are two major body types; the one with dangly bits inside their pants and the one with no dangly bits inside their pants. Apart from some rare and interesting variations, just about every single one of us is one of those two major body types (Yes, really!) So why all the secrecy? It’s no big deal. What is a big deal is the way we try to make out that our bodies are in some way wrong, or dangerous, and naughty even. I’m not about to advocate naturism everywhere – (each to his or her own) it’s too cold here for one thing but can we get over this, please?
Do we go to swimming lessons and say to the teacher, ‘What ever you do, don’t talk about breathing in front of my child.’?
Do we ask people not to use the bathroom before dark, because no one wants to know that they might be having a wee?
Do we put a watershed on cookery programmes, call them The Korma Sutra or The Joy of Woks and stick an 18+ “Contains gratuitous food shots” symbol next to them?
No. Of course we don’t. I know I’m exaggerating ridiculously. But we do let children see adults driving at life-threatening 200 miles an hour on the Grand Prix, getting drunk at any time of day on television and punching each other as if those things are more safe and acceptable than having a sexual relationship.
What the bloody hell is wrong with us!?
Do you want to know what sparked this post?
They’re everywhere. Bloody everywhere. They have a hugely, massively, gigantically significant impact on the way the human race operates and yet we are not allowed to talk about them. Well maybe only titillatingly (OOH- she said ‘tit’!)
Every month, millions and millions ( I know – that’s nearly all of us!)… Millions of women in the world of child-bearing age, go though a pattern of hormones. Then, as we get older, we have to learn to live with a new pattern of hormones. Increases and drops in hormones change our skin tone, our appetite, our concentration levels, our weight, even the water levels in our body, our energy, our tiredness and our ability to deal with stress. Some days we are literally stronger than other days. Literally. Some days we are really quite fabulous and other days we need to be less fabulous or just differently fabulous.
Our society has two major ways of dealing with these patterns: Denial, and humour. Just like sex then.
Some of us treat our hormones with medication; try to make them go away. Some of us load ourselves up with pain-killers, vitamin supplements, herbal and homeopathic remedies. Often we just feel we have no choice but to pull our socks up, grin and bear it, pretend it’s not happening. Everywhere you go there will be women pretending they are not struggling, while – with almost animalistic instinct – they secretly crave a big mug of hot chocolate, a cheese sarny, a nap, ibuprofen, and a hot-water bottle.
Because talking about it is seen as weak? Because it’s too much to do with body parts? It’s too closely related to reproduc – shhhh…..
I don’t know. I don’t blooming know.
So. I’m going to break this nonsense and tell you that once a month I get constant pain in my right hip for two days so that I can barely walk. I become very pale, and weak and dizzy. I get confused and find making decisions incredibly difficult. I get so over-sensitised that smells, tastes, lights, and noises are extreme. I am clumsy and have been known to have accidents that have involved trips to A&E. I am slow, hungry, unbelievably exhausted, and detached. By the time I have walked upstairs I feel like crying.
It hurts. It’s horrible. It has got worse as I’ve got older. But if I can be honest about it and take it easy for just one day, I’m absolutely okay. Why pretend otherwise?
We seem to have normalised being abnormal in this society.
Women seem to need to look like dolls but act like men to get on in the world.
I blame Lara Croft. What’s she got to do with real women?
The macho barbarian. I bet she doesn’t have periods.
‘Periods? Oh my God, she said “periods”!’
(I’m still trying to figure out how Margaret Thatcher managed to have children…)
I’m not blaming women. I’m not blaming men. I blame the gradual shifts in society that got us here and I blame fear. We’re too frightened to stand out and say, ‘Well actually… you know what… I think we might not be getting it quite right, here. I think I’d rather my kids learned about the reproductive system than how to blow someone’s brains out.’
I think we’ve got feminism all wrong too. Women are feminine. We are as strong as men but in very different ways. Different is good. It works better when we acknowledge difference. Like the dangly bits.
Where did I come from by Peter Mayle – a great book.